A day at the Benzigers

Going on location is one of my favorite things to do. I have to move fast, be spontaneous, and come up with solutions for lighting. It's especially fun when models are involved. Most of the time my wine clients like to use non-professional models, so this keeps me on my toes. I have to direct them and usually loosen them up so they look natural and not too posed.

Here are some shots from a  recent shoot day at Benziger Family Winery. 

Benziger Family

It started in the morning with a group family shot. The Benziger's are a close family with multiple generations in their business. I liked the flowers surrounding the area and we brought a picnic table in for people to stand on. Being business folks they lined up fast and we had this shot finished within 15 minutes of them all arriving.  Once the family shot was in the can, I toured the property, grabbing some scenic vineyards and scouting locations for our models. The aim was a lifestyle shoot for their web pages.

Nestled in Sonoma Valley above Glen Ellen, Benziger vines are biodynamically farmed and range over numerous hilltops creating stunning views.


Our models headed into the vineyards and started having fun pretending to be tourists. It's not hard to look like you are enjoying yourself when you have great wines and friends to chat with. I got out my 70-210 mm lens and had them move throughout the vines talking and gesturing.

models in vines

As the day progressed we wandered the property with the models, telling the story. Beautiful vineyards, great wines, fabulous gardens, and specialty tasting rooms. For most of these images, my assistant trained a shiny board to fill in the shadows. I expose for the shadows, which tends to overexpose a bit, so I correct the highlights while I'm editing. I always use a polarizing lens when I'm outdoors and backlight my subjects to make the background pop.

And finally we headed into the brand new Pinot Tasting library, added a few strobes and set the scene for a private tasting.


Many years ago the Benziger's started producing Signaterra and Coelo Pinot Noir's from the Sonoma Coast and have dedicated a tasting area to the pinot experience.

Coehlo Pinot Noirs

It was a long and hectic day, but we accomplished what we set out to do and have a great time! My favorite kind of day.